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Newsletter: From Evidence to Action

A presumed equality: The relationship between state and citizens in post-apartheid South Africa

Type :
Research reports & papers
Author :
Julian Brown and Stuart Wilson, University of the Witwatersrand
Published :
2012
Link :

This journal article uses a dispute between a school and the state in contemporary South Africa to examine the complex nature of the relationship between the state and its citizens. It argues that this relationship is best understood as a set of shifting arrangements of authority between bureaucratic institutions, political personalities, the judiciary and, most significantly, South Africa’s citizens themselves. Suggests that traditional models of the state have underestimated the agency of ordinary citizens and that the dispute examined reveals how their actions – made possible by the presumption of their equality with the state and its agents – can influence the development of a local or national political order.